TULIP PLANT­ING TIME!

● 4 great ways to plant ● How to max­imise crop ● Un­der­stand­ing tulip fire ● Best com­pan­ion plants

Amateur Gardening - - Front Page -

AS we head into Novem­ber, you may be think­ing that you’ve miss­ing the boat for plant­ing spring bulbs. Thank­fully, that’s not the case. In fact, when it comes to tulips, Novem­ber is the per­fect month for plant­ing. By hold­ing off un­til now, you en­sure the leaves do not emerge pre­ma­turely – mak­ing them more prone to at­tack by tulip fire. So late plant­ing is a good dis­ease-pre­ven­tion strat­egy.

And while it’s usu­ally rec­om­mended that most spring bulbs are planted by now, I’ve al­ways found that daf­fodils, grape hy­acinths and many oth­ers flower per­fectly well in spring if planted in Novem­ber. The stems may be a lit­tle shorter, but who cares?

Ul­ti­mately, though, this month is all about tulips, and think­ing of the best ways to use them. Beau­ti­ful though they are, the flow­ers won’t re­ally shine when planted singly – for op­ti­mum im­pact they need ar­rang­ing in groups.

A clump of tulips as a fea­ture or fo­cal point works very well. Bulbs usu­ally come in packs of 10 – ideal for im­pact in a sunny border or con­tainer. In larger gar­dens, dou­ble up. An ever­green shrub like a griselinia, or one with emerg­ing leaves (such as a dark-leaved el­der) makes an ef­fec­tive back­drop

An­other ap­proach is to mix to­gether two (or even three) care­fully cho­sen va­ri­eties, and plant in a large clump or a drift. Choose the colours you like best, and ei­ther match flower heights and times by se­lect­ing dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of the same type, or opt for dif­fer­ent types with stag­gered flow­er­ing times.

Part­ner­ing tulips with other bulbs also works very well; again, ei­ther go for a one-time dis­play or for suc­ces­sion. Small bulbs like mus­cari and Anemone

blanda can be planted in front, while hy­acinths will add a de­li­cious scent.

My pref­er­ence is to grow tulips with bi­en­ni­als and peren­ni­als – ide­ally, a mix of the two. Wallflow­ers and tulips are a clas­sic com­bi­na­tion, but the heights need match­ing as many mod­ern wall­flower va­ri­eties are quite short.

And don’t worry if you’ve al­ready planted your wallflow­ers and for­getme-nots – plus other part­ners such as vi­o­las, polyan­thus and dou­ble daisies. If that’s the case, you can sim­ply slip the tulip bulbs in among them.

Peren­ni­als make ex­cel­lent plant­ing part­ners for tulips, whether you opt for eu­phor­bias in green­ish yel­low, heucheras in their vast va­ri­ety of fo­liage colours, or the sil­vered fo­liage and dainty blue flow­ers of brun­nera.

So no, it’s def­i­nitely not too late. And who knows, you may even pick up some end-of-sea­son bar­gains.

Height and colour are key in tulip part­ner­ships. The orange tones of ‘Bal­le­rina’ and ‘Princess Irene’ work well with lime-green Euphor­bia poly­chroma and the rus­set leaves of Acer pal­ma­tum

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